Logical Thinking Questions to Supercharge Your Reasoning Skills

Logical Thinking QuestionsQuick! If you place a penny into a bottle and seal the bottle with a cork, how would you get the penny out without either breaking the bottle or pulling the cork? Stumped? We’ll get to the answer in a second, but until then, don’t peek! Logical thinking questions like that one are designed to sharpen your mind by exercising both your logical reasoning and critical thinking skills. Sure, you may never encounter a situation where your life depends on getting pennies out of sealed bottles, but having a sharp, logical mind and the ability to think critically can get you out of other, more practical jams.

When you think about it, you’re bombarded every day with decisions and arguments. What do you need to do to finish that project before the deadline? How can you convince your boss to give you a raise? Should you buy car company A’s sedan, or car company B’s? Maybe it’s you doing the arguing–trying to get someone else to see things your way. You can become more effective at every day reasoning skills–and the benefits they provide–by sharpening your critical thinking skills through logical thinking questions and puzzles. Plus, who doesn’t love to win arguments? Honing your reasoning skills can help you do just that! 

 By the way, push the cork all the way in to the bottle, then shake the penny out. Voila!

Logical Reasoning Versus Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking 

You’re probably very familiar with the term “critical thinking”, because it is very likely that you encountered it all throughout your education, starting as early as kindergarten. After all, it’s fine to know how to read War and Peace, but it takes critical thought to truly understand it. Critical thinking is essentially the act of asking questions and then figuring out the answers. Remember the 5 w’s of who, where, what, why, and which? Sure you do, we can tell you’re smart! You probably use critical thinking every day without even realizing it, asking yourself questions like:

  • If I do…what will happen?
  • Why is…happening?
  • How will doing…change the outcome?

It’s how we make both snap decisions and puzzle out long-term solutions, all without thinking twice about it. The key to critical thinking is to always be asking that next question. Ultimately, that’s what helps us stay sharp when it comes to making decisions.

But how do critical thinking questions differ from logical thinking questions? Well, let’s take a quick look at how critical thought is different from logical thought.

Logical Reasoning

Logical reasoning is what takes place after you’ve asked the critical question. For instance, in the puzzle above, the question was–“How will you get the penny out of the bottle?” The logic element comes in when you introduce the caveats–no smashing the bottle, and no pulling the cork. To solve it, you need to use logical reasoning, and for questions like these, deduction is typically the type you use.

By eliminating wrong solutions (breaking the bottle, pulling the cork) you are left with the only logical choice: to push the cork inside and shake the penny out. You’ve deduced the answer with logic! Deductive reasoning, determining the answer by looking at the outcome,  is common with logic puzzles like that one. There are two other methods of logical reasoning: inductive–using past observances to determine outcome–and abductive–inferring the most likely scenario using a common premise. We mentioned that when answering logical thinking questions, you’ll usually use deductive, but let’s look at all three for a moment:

  • Deductive reasoning:
    • When the door bell rings, someone is at the door.
    • The door bell is ringing.
    • Therefore, someone is at the door.
  • Inductive reasoning:
    • The past 20 times the doorbell rang, someone is at the door.
    • The doorbell is ringing.
    • Therefore, someone is at the door.
  • Abductive reasoning:
    • When someone is at the door, the door bell rings.
    • Someone is at the door now.
    • They will probably ring the door bell.

It can seem like these have little variance between them, but if you think, you can probably come up with instances where you used each type of reasoning in an every day situation. All of our reasoning skills are essentially rooted in these three types of logical presumptions–the smaller parts of whole-brain thinking that make up our problem-solving functions.

Logical Thinking Questions

Now that you know a little more about how to use logical reasoning and critical thinking to deduce, induce, understand, argue, and just be a little more awesome all around, let’s put it to good use. Puzzles and riddles are great ways to sharpen your skills and improve not just your reasoning and critical thought techniques, but activate your memory and recall, too! Let’s take a look at three common logical thinking questions and how to solve them. Take a minute after you read each question and see if you can figure it out first before looking at the answer. We’ll bet you can!

The Sock Drawer 

Let’s start with an easy one! This question is actually sometimes used in the interview process to see if you can think on your feet (pun totally intended). Let’s see how you measure up.

You are in a pitch black room, and you need to get dressed. In your sock drawer, there are 10 pairs of white socks, and 10 pairs of black socks, and you are already wearing one sock. Having unmatched socks is a fashion faux pas, so how many socks do you need to pull out of the drawer without seeing them until you have a matching pair?

Three Light Switches 

Here’s another common interview question, usually thrown at engineers. It can be used to measure creative thought and efficient problem solving. Are you ready?

Outside of a closed room is a wall with three light switches. Inside the room is a lightbulb. Only one switch turns the light on and off, and you may only enter the room one time while you test the lights. How can you tell which lightswitch controls the light?

Locks and Keys 

Alright, let’s get a little trickier with this one.

You want to send a priceless book to a friend securely. You have a box that can be fitted with multiple locks, and you have several locks and the keys to open them. However, your friend does not have any keys that open the locks that you have, and if you send a key in an unlocked box, the key could be copied en route. Your friend has his own locks and keys. How can you send the book without having it stolen?

Answers:

The Sock Drawer 

Three. The first may not match the sock you are wearing, but with only two color options, three pulls will guarantee you a match.

Three Light Switches 

Turn two switches ON, and leave one OFF. Wait 10 minutes. Then shut one of the ON switches OFF. One switch is ON and two are now OFF. Go into the room right away. If the light is on, you know it’s the switch that is still ON. If the light is off, feel the light bulb. If the bulb is cold, it’s the light switch that you never turned ON. If the bulb is still warm but the light is off, it’s the switch you turned ON but then turned OFF prior to entering the room.Whew!

Locks and Keys 

Place the book in your box, and lock it up tight with one of your locks. Send the box to your friend. Your friend should then attach one of his own locks and return it. When you receive it again, cut your original lock off and send it back. Now your friend can unlock his own lock and retrieve the book!

 There you have it, logical thinking questions to hone your reasoning skills. There are lots of ways to tap into the power of your brain and reasoning skills besides puzzles like these. You could learn the secret to sharpening your memory skills, for instance, or enroll in a course that will show you new ways to approach your overall thought process. Soon you’ll be unstoppable!